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Dedham: Family's legal fight cost Colchester thousands
ONE family’s fight to live on land in an area of outstanding natural beauty cost Colchester up to £44,000, it has been claimed.
The Pryke family’s two-year legal battle with Colchester Council eventually culiminated in them leaving the land off Brook Street, Dedham, earlier this year.
The council yesterday said the cost to it was £11,000.
However, Gwen Pryke, who had occupied the site with husband Asa and their three teenage sons, said she believed the true cost was three or four times greater than claimed.
She said the money should have been spent on other resources.
“They had barristers and everything working for them and barristers’ fees alone would have been £6-7,000. My solicitors’ fees were £15,000.
“They have had lots of staff working on this and have re-housed us and are paying some of the rent,” she added.
The couple became locked in a row with Colchester Council when they moved tents and caravans on the land, claiming they had a right to live there.
Matters came to a head when the couple both served jail terms for refusing to leave the site.
The family accepted an offer from the council of a privately rented house on Colchester’s St Michael’s estate, in March.
But Tim Young, the council’s portfolio holder for planning, condemned the family for the cost to Colchester’s tax payers.
He said: “£11,000 could have been used for any number of things.
“We have a budget that’s all over the place, a leisure centre to run, an activity centre we have to look at closing and it all comes out of the council’s budget.
“Here is £11,000 that one family have cost the council and could have been spent elsewhere.”
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